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Pregnant California employees could see increased protections

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for any California family. However, it can also be stressful. Some of that stress may come from how the pregnancy affects the woman's job and how the job affects the woman's pregnancy. In some situations, in order to have a healthy pregnancy the woman must do things that she could normally avoid -- or vice versa.

Several federal and state employment laws protect women from facing discrimination at work because of a pregnancy. These laws also allow women and men to take off time from work after the baby is born to recover and bond with their children without fear of losing their jobs. Laws that currently protect pregnant women include the Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, some observers do not believe these protections go far enough to ensure safety, health and fairness to pregnant women. Recently, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, this legislation would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. This legislation would also make it illegal for employers to force pregnant women to take temporary leave, if these women could continue working if the employer provided reasonable accommodations.

This law would add another layer of protection for pregnant women in California. It would allow them to stay on a more even playing field with other employees and would help to ensure that they do not face employment discrimination based on their pregnancy.

Pregnant women that currently experience discrimination at work may have legal remedies. This discrimination includes hiring discrimination, being fired because of a pregnancy or not being offered leave according to FMLA. Women who experience these types of discrimination may be entitled to back pay or punitive damages, based on the circumstances leading to a claim.

Source: Accounting Web, "The Rise in Pregnancy Disability Regulations," Richard D. Alaniz, Sep. 7, 2012

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